An ordained Cumberland minister tells us, “The Cumberland Presbyterian Church is a Presbyterian body formed during the Great Revival of 1800. The revival caused disagreement within the Presbyterian Church (USA) both over the mechanics of the revival and over allowances the pro-revival faction was willing to make in order to secure ministers for its rapidly expanding following. These presbyteries, Cumberland in particular, believed the revival to be an extraordinary circumstance, which allowed for exceptions to both educational requirements for ordination and the required subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith. The faction opposed to the revival dominated. This anti-revival faction took steps to curtail the activities of the revival oriented Presbyteries, who disagreed with several tenents, including the requirement that in order to be ordained, candidates were required to go through a “classical education” in a college, then go to seminary back east in Pennsylvania or other approved seminaries – or even in Scotland, rather than obtain theological education in “saddleback schools,” or through being taught by ordained ministers, etc.. These disaffected Presbyterian ministers did not intend to found an independent Presbyterian body”. However unintended, the Cumberland faction created this new faction of the Presbyterian faith and Cumberland Presbyterian congregations are now located in several countries. There are primarily located in the American South, with strong concentrations in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri, southern Illinois, Arkansas, and Texas.
The first Cumberland Presbyterian minister to permanently settle in Georgia was the Rev. Samuel Houston Henry who organized his first church in 1851. The history states that two years later, he formed another church just south of Calhoun in Gordon County, which was the beginning of Liberty Cumberland. By this time many Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian were beginning to populate the landscape of northwest Georgia. The Presbyterian Church had organized missions to the Cherokees in Floyd County as early as 1832. They now began to use many of the same recruiting techniques as the Baptists and Methodists, including camp meetings and campgrounds, that attracted thousands of people from the surrounding communities. Some of these campgrounds evolved into permanent churches. Liberty was the second such Cumberland church established in Georgia. The Liberty church, also known as the White Church, soon became a member of the Georgia Presbytery. We are told these early families came to this part of northwest Georgia from Tennessee and North Carolina and settled in the upper reaches of Springtown Valley, a few miles south of Calhoun. In October of 1859, the congregation purchesed one acre of land for one dollar from V. H. Cain to erect a meeting house. Additional land was secured in 1860.
There is an interesting incident that happened during the Civil War, according to the local history. The Rev. Allison Templeton was conducting a spring revival service and a dozen or so Confederate soldiers came into the service and took a seat. The service was quietly progressing until “a company of blue coats road up and entered the church”. Rev. Templeton asked all the congregation to participate in the worship service, including the Federal troops. At the end of the service, when mourners were called, a number of soldiers from both sides came to the mourners bench and sat side by side. After the service both sides rode away in their different directions. As with a lot of old Civil War stories, it cannot be validated but it is an uplifting thought that a moment of spiritual peace was possible in the terrible conflict taking place outside. The little white church has been through periods of prosperity and decline but she is still standing tall and is well maintained so that more generations can appreciate the service that the little white church has given to this part of North Georgia for over 150 years.